Welsh Idioms?

This is something I’ve been wondering for a while, because I speak in colloquialisms and idioms a lot in English. I’m always a little wary of translating them directly because I know that they likely will get lost in translation, and also because I’m sure a lot of them are Australianisms, and don’t make sense anywhere else anyway.

So, does anyone know any idioms yn Gymraeg?

Diolch i chi bawb!


That would definitely be useful - perhaps this could show up in course 3 (eventually)?

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I just did gwers 16 of course 3 and it hasn’t come up yet…I’ll have to wait and see.

I was actually referring to Level 3, from the new course (yeah; confusing, I know :wink: ).

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Got it. I always get confused as to which one people are referring to! :smile:

How about ‘rhoi y ffidl yn y to’ - put the fiddle in the roof. (The same as ‘throw the towel in.’) I jointly tutor two Welsh classes each week in Hobart with my wife and we have a ‘dywediad’ to begin each lesson with the intermediate/advanced group. Sometimes these are remarkably similar to English idioms - e.g. ‘dim ond tynnu coes mae o’ ( he is only pulling your leg.) I could go on at length if you want more. The Welsh adult learner’s magazine Lingo Newydd has an idiomatic expression at the back in each issue. It’s also a great resource which caters for different levels of profficiency, gives good insights into Welsh culture, history and entertainment and can be ordered in the UK or overseas through Golwg.


Diolch yn fawr iawn, that’s very helpful. Please do go on!

About the magazine - what’s the shipping like to Aus? :smile:

I like: “dros ben llestri” (over the top [of the dishes]) and “mae’n bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn” (it’s raining old women and sticks [cats and dogs]).

There are books of idioms available, but not sure what shipping to Australia would be like!


Ooh, diolch! I like those. I’ll have to check out those books and see if the shipping is reasonable!

The thing I find with books of idioms is that they’re great fun to browse and to compare and contrast between languages (you can buy a pig in a poke in English or a cat in a bag in Welsh), but the particular idiom you want at any given moment is seldom in the book!

Prynu cath mewn cwd = Buy a cat in a bag/pig in a poke/unknown quantity
Bwrw cyllyll a ffyrc = raining knives and forks/cats and dogs
Siarad fel melin bupur = talking like a pepper mill/non-stop
Dim pwynt codi pais ar ôl piso = No point lifting the petticoat after peeing/bolting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
Ar bigau’r drain = On the points of the spikes/tenterhooks


Great! Diolch yn fawr! :smile:

For anyone else who had difficulties in finding out to subscribe, here is the link (to that and related magazines):

(I still cannot see a link to that from the http://golwg360.cymru top page - If anyone else can spot it, please reveal the secret here! :slight_smile: - I eventually found it via google, but it wasn’t easy. Would be good if they could make it more obvious somehow).

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There is one you will learn in (old) Course 2, which refers to someone sulking. So you may ask “are you sulking??” as “wyt ti wedi llyncu mul??”. It’s literal meaning is “have you swallowed a mule??”
It’s taught in the northern course, as in the south we use “pwdu” for “to sulk”, but we did get treated to a little practice with the northern version too!


And I’ve heard “llyncu mul” used on “Rownd a Rownd” (set/made) in Ynys Môn), so it’s definitely authentic! :slight_smile: (mostly by older people, I seem to remember). Think I’ve also heard “pwdu” there as well.

Edit: a fairly boring one I’ve just come across in gweiadur.com:

gwybod fy (dy, ei, a.y.b.) mhethau OR deall fy ngwaith - to know one’s onions/business


Yes, I remember that one! I made a concerted effort to commit it to memory, even when we stopped using it in the place of ‘pwdu’.

@mikeellwood, thanks for the link - I’ll look into it.

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Bod yn llygad dy le - to be in the eye of your place = to be exactly right (about something)
Cyntaf i’r felin (geith falu) - first to the mill (gets to… grind, I guess) = first come first served
And speaking of grinding/milling (whatever the verb is): malu awyr (to grind air) or malu cachu (to grind, er, poop) = to talk nonsense :slight_smile:

I can never hear this expression without getting the song “Gitâr yn y To” in my head. :slight_smile:


I had a memory of an old list of idioms on the SSiW Wiki, so I went looking for it. Here’s a link to that page


The magazine is bi-monthly and the rates are £9 for the UK, £15 for Europe and £20 for the rest of the world for the six copies annually (about $45). We use some of the articles in our classes and lend copies to students. We’ve subscribed for four years and fill in a renewal form in the magazine to pay. I’m not sure about online payment but you can ring them and pay by credit card.(tel - 01570 423529 - drop the 0 and insert +61 if calling from Australia.) The email address is - ymholiadau@golwg.com Copies come reliably to Australia by air-mail. I hope you like these expressions - ffws a ffwden (fuss and bother, hustle and bustle), unwaith ac am byth (once and for all), gwneud yn fawr o (make the most of), dweud eich dweud ( have your say), dim gobaith caneri ( no hope at all) heb na siw na miw (without a sound/trace) and one from Lingo Newydd - dawnsio ar y dibyn (dancing on the edge of a cliff - living dangerously, like some takers of selfies on clifftops in Australia.)


Diolch eto! I’ll definitely look into a subscription. $45 is very reasonable, considering some magazine subscriptions I’ve paid in the past!

Diolch hefyd @Sionned and @Kinetic. Very helpful (and entertaining)!

Make sure that you make contact if you decide to visit Tasmania and we’ll organise some people to have a chat with you yng Nghymraeg os oes gen ti ddiddordeb. We have a conversation group also on the first Tuesday of each month which is advertised in the SSIW emails. Pob lwc efo dy Gymraeg.

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